SAFe recommends separating deployment from release

SAFe Recommends Separating Deployment from Release

SAFe’s wisdom shines through the separation of deployment and release, unlocking the power to innovate swiftly while ensuring the smoothest customer experience.


Software deployment and release are often used interchangeably, but they represent different stages in the software delivery lifecycle. Deployment refers to the process of moving software to a target environment, while release signifies making the software available to end-users or customers. SAFe recognizes the importance of distinguishing between these two stages and recommends separating them for optimal results.

The PM/PO role is specifically designed to facilitate customer engagement by:

  • Gathering Customer Insights: The PM/PO actively interacts with customers to collect feedback, understand their pain points, and identify their needs and preferences. They conduct interviews, customer surveys, and market research to gain valuable insights that guide the development of the product.
  • Eliciting Requirements: Through direct access to customers, the PM/PO engages in discussions to elicit and clarify requirements. They work closely with customers to identify and prioritize features, functionalities, and user stories that align with their expectations and deliver value.
  • Collaborating on Product Vision: The PM/PO collaborates with customers to define the product vision and roadmap. By understanding customers’ long-term goals and market trends, they ensure that the product aligns with customer needs and remains competitive in the marketplace.
  • Validating Solutions: The PM/PO presents proposed solutions, prototypes, or minimum viable products (MVPs) to customers for validation. They gather feedback, iterate on designs, and ensure that the delivered solutions meet customer expectations and address their pain points.
  • Managing Customer Relationships: The PM/PO acts as a liaison between the development teams and customers, managing relationships, and facilitating effective communication. They provide regular updates to customers, manage expectations, and address any concerns or issues raised by customers throughout the development process.

By having direct access to customers, the PM/PO plays a crucial role in ensuring that the developed solutions meet customer needs, align with market demands, and deliver value. They act as the customer advocate within the SAFe framework, incorporating customer feedback into the product development process and driving customer satisfaction.

Understanding Deployment and Release

Before we delve into the reasons behind SAFe’s recommendation, let’s clarify the concepts of deployment and release.

Deployment is the technical process of transferring software from one environment to another. It involves tasks such as configuring servers, installing necessary dependencies, and setting up the infrastructure to support the software. Deployment ensures that the software is ready to be run in a specific environment, but it doesn’t guarantee its availability to end users.

Release, on the other hand, is the act of making the software available to customers or users. It encompasses activities like marketing, communication, and delivering the software through appropriate channels. A release involves the deployment of software, but it also includes additional steps to ensure a smooth user experience and maximize the value delivered to customers.

The Challenges of Combining Deployment and Release

When deployment and release are combined into a single step, several challenges can arise:

  • Increased Risk: Merging deployment and release increases the chances of errors or issues during the process. A problem during deployment could directly impact end-users, resulting in customer dissatisfaction and potential revenue loss.
  • Lack of Flexibility: Combining deployment and release limits the ability to iterate and make improvements during the process. If an issue arises during deployment, it becomes more challenging to address it without affecting the release schedule.
  • Reduced Speed: In a combined approach, any delay in the deployment process directly affects the release timeline. This can lead to missed market opportunities or the inability to respond to customer demands in a timely manner.

SAFe’s Recommendation: Separating Deployment and Release

SAFe recognizes the benefits of separating deployment and release and recommends adopting this approach. By decoupling these two stages, organizations gain the following advantages:

  • Risk Mitigation: Separating deployment and release reduces the risk of impacting end-users when deploying software. Any issues that arise during deployment can be addressed without delaying the release, ensuring a smoother and more reliable customer experience.
  • Increased Flexibility: With the separation, teams have the freedom to iterate and improve the deployment process independently of the release schedule. This enables continuous improvement and the ability to adapt to changing requirements and market conditions.
  • Faster Time to Market: By separating deployment and release, teams can deploy software more frequently and efficiently. This allows organizations to respond quickly to customer needs, release updates, and enhancements, and stay ahead of the competition.

Benefits of Separating Deployment and Release

Let’s explore some of the key benefits that organizations can achieve by implementing the separation of deployment and release:

  • Improved Quality: By focusing on deployment and release as separate activities, organizations can dedicate more time and attention to each stage. This results in higher-quality software, as issues and bugs can be addressed more effectively during the deployment phase.
  • Enhanced Collaboration: The separation improves collaboration between development, operations, and business teams. Each team can focus on its specific responsibilities, leading to better coordination, faster feedback loops, and smoother handoffs between stages.
  • Reduced Time to Recover: When deployment and release are separate, recovering from a deployment failure becomes quicker and more efficient. Teams can roll back the deployment without impacting the release, minimizing downtime and customer disruption.
  • Scalability and Standardization: Separation allows organizations to scale their deployment processes independently from the release cycle. This facilitates standardization and consistency across different software deployments, ensuring reliable and repeatable outcomes.

Implementing the Separation in SAFe

Implementing the separation of deployment and release in SAFe involves a few key considerations:

  • Clearly define the roles, responsibilities, and handoff points between the deployment and release teams.
  • Establish well-defined criteria for promoting software from deployment to release.
  • Implement effective communication channels and feedback loops between the two teams.
  • Incorporate automation and tooling to streamline and support separate processes.
  • Continuously monitor and measure the effectiveness and efficiency of both deployment and release to drive ongoing improvements.

Best Practices for Effective Deployment and Release

To ensure the successful implementation of the separation, consider the following best practices:

  • Use version control and repository management systems to track changes and ensure a reliable deployment process.
  • Implement automated testing and quality assurance practices to catch issues early in the deployment cycle.
  • Establish a robust monitoring and logging system to track the performance and health of deployed software.
  • Encourage cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing between deployment and release teams.
  • Continuously improve deployment and release processes based on feedback and data-driven insights.

Case Studies: Organizations That Separated Deployment and Release

Several organizations have embraced the separation of deployment and release and witnessed positive outcomes. For example:

Company A: By adopting SAFe’s recommendation, Company A reduced the number of critical issues encountered during deployments by 50%. This led to improved customer satisfaction and a higher adoption rate for their software.

Company B: Separating deployment and release allowed Company B to release updates to their software every two weeks instead of the previous monthly release cycle. This accelerated their time to market and helped them gain a competitive advantage.


SAFe’s recommendation to separate deployment from release provides significant advantages for organizations engaged in software development. By treating deployment and release as distinct stages, organizations can mitigate risks, increase flexibility, and accelerate time to market. The separation allows teams to focus on each stage’s specific requirements, resulting in higher-quality software, enhanced collaboration, and faster recovery from failures. Embracing this approach, organizations can optimize their software delivery processes and stay ahead in today’s fast-paced digital landscape.


  1. What is the difference between deployment and release?

    Deployment refers to the technical process of moving software to a target environment, while release involves making the software available to end-users or customers.

  2. Why should organizations separate deployment and release?

    Separation mitigates risks, increases flexibility, and enables faster time to market by allowing teams to focus on each stage’s specific requirements.

  3. What are the benefits of separating deployment and release?

    Benefits include improved software quality, enhanced collaboration, reduced time to recover from failures, and scalability and standardization of deployment processes.

  4. How can organizations implement the separation in SAFe?

    Organizations can define clear roles and responsibilities, establish criteria for promoting software to release, foster effective communication channels, and incorporate automation and tooling.

  5. Are there any case studies on organizations that implemented the separation?

    Yes, several organizations have successfully implemented the separation, resulting in reduced issues during deployments and accelerated time to market.

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